CORNELIUS – Kick off the Fourth of July holiday and the summer season with the annual Symphony in the Park event, culminating with fireworks.

The town’s largest celebration hosted by the Cornelius Parks, Arts, Recreation and Culture Department, Symphony in the Park is a popular event for residents and visitors of all ages and has been a town staple since 2000. 

“Symphony in the Park is the Cornelius PARC Department’s signature cultural event drawing several thousand spectators from throughout the region,” said PARC Director Troy Fitzsimmons. “With a strong performance of patriotic music by the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and a spectacular fireworks display, it's the perfect way to kick off the July 4th holiday.”

Always held the Saturday before the Fourth of July to kick off the holiday week, the free event takes place June 28 at Bailey Road Park, 11536 Bailey Road, Cornelius. Gates open at 6 p.m.

Attendees should be mindful of the Exit 28 bridge closure, taking place from midnight June 27 to 8 a.m. June 29 and plan their routes accordingly. Those coming from Charlotte or Huntersville should take Exit 25 east to N.C. 115 north; from Mooresville/Davidson should take N.C. 115 south; and from the west side of I-77 in Cornelius, use Westmoreland Road to N.C. 21 south to Bailey Road.

“A large portion of the attendees are Cornelius residents so we aren’t too concerned about it,” said PARC Special Events Coordinator Mindi Stoner, noting they’ve been working to get the word out. “It’s unfortunate it fell during this weekend, but we don’t think it will have a big impact. Though people should know [travel] may take longer.”

Parking is available in the park, Bailey Middle and Hough High, with a free shuttle service offered.

Children’s activities, including inflatables and face painting, are free of charge and take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Dukes and Smith, which calls itself an “energetic mix of pop/rock, country, rhythm and blues and beach music spanning four decades” on its website, will kick things off from 7 to 8 p.m.

The Charlotte Symphony will then perform its show Celebrate America. Those who attended the June 20 performance at Duke Energy’s EnergyExplorium will get to see the more than 100 performers in action again, this time with a patriotic theme.

Led by Conductor Albert-George Schram, this show’s lineup includes “Liberty Fanfare,” “Orange Blossom Special," "This Land is Your Land," "Armed Forces Salute," "Liberty Bell March" and "America the Beautiful", among others.

“The symphony has a great following and the venue with the band shell is a great venue for an event like this,” Stoner said.

Fireworks will follow immediately after the symphony performance.

Attendees are invited to bring their picnic baskets, blankets and lawn chairs. Concessions from Juan Taco, Kona Ice, Bruester’s Ice Cream and Nathan’s Hot Dogs will also be available for purchase. Coolers are welcome, however, glass containers and bottles, pets, tents and open flames are not permitted. Attendees are also asked to be mindful of the newly installed synthetic turf field. For the health of all park patrons, tobacco products are prohibited.

Because of its popularity, Symphony in the Park outgrew its former home at Legion Park and was moved to Bailey Road Park in 2005. Stoner said the town anticipates 2,000-2,500 people for the symphony performance, with another 1,000 coming for the fireworks.